The Fixie rides again!

August 24, 2014 at 20:37 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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surlyforksDo you remember this? Several months ago, the front forks on my fixie started buckling in a most alarming fashion. Long-time readers may also remember this, from several years earlier – another alarming fixie fork failure.

Well, the most recent problem was with the forks that got replaced less then three years before, so they were still under warranty. So I contacted both Salsa and the local distributor confident of speedy resolution.

This was in May. Finally, in mid August, I get the bike back on the road. Three whole months. Why did it take this long? I have no idea. A catalogue of problems, phone calls, parts not arriving, alleged computer problems, alleged shipment problems, warranty issues; the list of excuses was legion. I was, as you might expect, extremely unimpressed.

Apparently replacement Salsa forks are no longer available, so Salsa replaced them with a Surly set. To be honest, I’m rather pleased about this; my faith in Salsa forks is now irrevocably damaged. The local Salsa agent informed me that Salsa had authorised a ‘$120 credit note’ to obtain the new forks. Gallingly, I see that Wiggle has Salsa forks in stock, with free 3-day shipment to Australia. For $103. If Salsa had just given me the $120, I could have had the bike back on the road inside a week, with seventeen dollars to put towards the installation cost. But, as it was, I had to wait three months to get my bike back on the road, with no contribution to put towards the labour charges. Three months!

And an interesting three months it was; half of it was spent riding a loan bike from the shop (the very helpful Cranks in Chatswood). This was brought to an abrupt end, however. The rest was spent riding Mrs Dan’s electric Gazelle, which was also interesting, and something I will write about at some point, if I remember.

However, in the meantime I’m just glad to be back  on the fixie. I was wondering if I’d have forgotten how to ride it, after three months with the pernicious temptation of a freewheel, and more latterly, a motor. But all was well; much like riding an, erm, bicycle, you don’t forget. So much more fun. I love my fixie.

But my love affair with Salsa is well and truly over. I still enjoy riding my Casseroll. But three forks and some appalling customer service later, I somehow can’t see me recommending Salsa to anyone else any longer. Ride and… Sigh, everyone, Ride and Sigh.

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A tale of two drivetrains

February 19, 2013 at 20:22 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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ficed gear drivetrainI finally got around to fixing the drivetrain on my fixie. I spend a few weeks ummming and ahhhing about buying the bits online and doing it myself  – I even went so far as to put them all into a shopping basket on Wiggle, but never actually pressed ‘purchase’. The main reason was I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get the lockring off the the fixed sprocket. I do have the right tool, but it’s a rather puny, cheapo affair that I suspected would not be up to the task. I did then consider also buying a decent tool to do it with (which would still have worked out cheaper than the LBS), and perhaps a new lockring (in case I trashed the old one getting it off), but by this time it was all getting too hard, so I decided to go to the LBS instead. Oh, and I am also too lazy to do these things myself.

I took the bike in in November, but for various reasons it took until the end of January to get the work done. Now, I don’t want to slag off my LBS here, as they re really nice guys who are generous with their time and do a good job for me. But, well, sometimes I do thing small stores could be a little more organised. What with my order getting lost in some diary transfer, confusion about what size chainwheel I needed and a discussion about whether it was a freewheel or fixed gear I wanted it all took a long time to get sorted out, what with wrong parts having to be sent back and so on. Customer service is about more than just great service whilst you’re in the shop; it also extends to getting the details right first time and not losing track of orders. Oh well, sermon over. I suppose it meant I eked a few more months out of a pretty-much-dead drivetrain.

Whilst the fixie was in surgery, I of course rode the Radish. And in doing so realised it too needed some TLC; the front brake pads were worn down and the gears were not changing smoothly. So I booked it in for a service. It turned out that the drivetrain on that was ‘end-of-life’ too; the technician put the chain wear gauge on it and declared ‘it’s well over 2% stretched – that chain is never going to change gears smoothly. You need a new chain and cluster.’. Funny; it never occurred to me that it might be worn out – even though the bike is four or five years old and it’s still on the original chain. So this all had to be arranged too; thankfully with no ordering stuff-ups so it was all dealt with very quickly and efficiently.

So now I had two new drivetrains, with both bikes feeling silky smooth and lovely to pedal. The fixie did indeed feel teriffic – all the play in the drivetrain was gone, as was the grinding, rattling sound of the chain. Just smooth, oiled whirring. But the Radish didn’t seem so good; something as still rattling and grinding around. I gave it a quick once over, and discovered the culprit – the bearings in the pedal were toast, and the right pedal was wobbling and grinding around like the ones on an old kids trike. Back to the LBS for a set of new pedals, and things seemed better again. But then not. The drivetrain still felt a bit grindy, and the gears were jumping. I was riding along unhappily, thinking that I would have to take it back to the LBS again, when I remembered something. I pulled up, and had a peek under the pannier. A-ha! Of course! The rear skewer had worked loose again! No wonder it was all a bit odd with the back wheel wobbling around all over the place. The LBS guys wouldn’t have know that it tends to do this, and that it needs to be super tight. So I tightened it up, and continued on my ride (and props to the fellow cyclist who stopped to ask if I was OK at 10.30pm last night when I was sorting it out – much appreciated).

Bliss. Smooth, oiled whirring and slick gear changes. Fellow cyclists unite – you have nothing to lube but your chains!

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